Erin Hoffman's Inside Job

Erin Hoffman's Inside Job
Inside Job: Lessons from the Street II

Erin Hoffman | 21 Mar 2008 17:00
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Earlier this month, I set out to consolidate folk wisdom from the games industry for the anecdotal benefit of students and developers new to the business. This week, the quest continues. I posed two questions to some of the great people I've been fortunate to meet here. The first was easiest:

Given the opportunity to give one piece of advice to an aspiring game developer, what would they say?

"Be persistent! That pays off more often than any other simple tactic I've found."
-- Noah Falstein, Freelance Designer, The Inspiracy

"Make a game, a mod or a map in the game editor of your choice before even thinking about going for a real game job. Everyone has great ideas; not everyone has the balance of technical mastery and aesthetic competence it takes to make a game designer."
-- John Feil, Lead Designer, Foundation 9 Entertainment

"My suggestion to a new game developer is try to find another profession. This doesn't mean giving up programming if you're a programmer; just don't be a game programmer.

If a person can't be dissuaded, I suggest any developer learn a little about other game development disciplines to make it easier to resolve problems. An artist should learn a little about programming and audio; a programmer should learn something about art tools; etc."
-- Joe Pearce, Owner, Wyrmkeep Entertainment

"The most important piece of advice I would give to any newcomer is that you should approach every single task and interaction in the industry as a chance to excel. It is really hard to maintain that attitude and ethic. One of the lessons I learned from my time working in theater is that the most important thing you can bring to the table for anything is simply commitment - which is to say committing to do something wholly, fully, to the best of your ability and with complete responsibility for its success until the bitter end while absolutely not half-assing anything at any level. Treating every task and interaction as a chance to excel is essentially committing to your career at every level. Note that 'excel' here does not refer to making yourself look good at the expense of others. It means, rather, exceeding all expectations of the outcome - including your own."
-- Link Hughes, Programmer, CCP North America

"Never pretend to know something you don't. You get way more cred in the long run for being honest, and it'll give you many more opportunities for learning new things."
-- Jenny Dybedahl, Systems Administrator, Handelsbanken

"Know your strengths and weaknesses and play to your strengths - even if that's not what your friends, parents, boss and your own expectations tell you to do. For years I knew I wanted to be a game programmer, and eventually I became one ... but after a while I realized that I would never be more than a journeyman. True brilliance eluded me, in part because I didn't enjoy it enough to put in the effort required to excel. Later I found something that I do excel at - game design consulting and teaching - and I'm a lot happier now. I also don't have to work as hard - or at least, it doesn't feel as much like work because I enjoy it."
-- Ernest Adams, Game Design Consultant, International Hobo

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